Monday, March 24, 2008

Pulled Out a of Long Hiatus By the ID vs Evolution Turned Political Framers vs Vocal Critics "Controversy"

So I've been gone for a while, not that anyone noticed because I hadn't been blogging for long enough to gain any readers. However, with the recent Expelled fiasco, I felt the need to come back here and get my opinion out. This is as much of an exercise in me figuring out exactly what I think about the whole ordeal as it is in me communicating my insignificant opinion to whoever happens to be reading this.

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with the incident (which I can't imagine, because it seems like it is what everyone in the science blogosphere is talking about) Greg Laden has summarized what happened, and provided links to many of the news sources and blogs that discuss it. That entry alone can provide you with some idea of how the issue has been completely blown out of proportion. I had a good chuckle to myself on the night of the event, after reading PZ Myers's first post about being Expelled from Expelled. However, since then, the discussion has taken a large turn from the jovial tone of Myers first post. Chris Mooney thinks that the "hoopla" surrounded PZ's expulsion will actually help Expelled in the long run. His fellow framer, Matt Nisbet, also weighed in, and said some things that many, including PZ, were not happy about.

Since then, the atmosphere on quite a few of the ScienceBlogs has become reminiscent of a middle school cafeteria.

This controversy has brought the whole issue of framing to my attention. I have only recently been exposed to this idea and hadn't given it that much thought. I'm still trying to formulate my opinion on the issue - I have always been rather vocal (not publicly since I'm a student and have no forum for doing so, but in my conversations) about the fact that I don't think religion and science are really compatible. However, I don't find it astonishing that going around, declaring this to the world, may not be the best tactical approach. As a young idealist who believes that science should be about what is true, and not about what you want to hear, I am not immediately sympathetic to the idea of being so political when communicating science. But if it is something that would be for the greater good in the long run, I can see where Mooney and Nisbet are coming from (although I'm not convinced they are approaching it the right way).

Regardless, I think Mooney and Nisbet are completely wrong about this particular situation. Frankly, what Dawkins and Myers have said and done so far with this issue probably won't make much difference at all, for better or for worse. Sure, it's had some coverage in the NY the science section... The people who read that section almost certainly already have their minds made up on the issue of Evolution vs ID. Other than that, it has been covered by a few Christian news sources, a couple of local papers, and blogs. It's not exactly the news that everyone is talking about (besides the science bloggers). I actually think it would be better if this was brought to wider attention, the hypocrisy is obvious to anyone that is not a complete IDiot.

But, really, the science community needs to stop fighting among themselves about this. There have been a few voices of reason who have expressed themselves much more eloquently on the subject than I could ever hope to. So I will direct you to Dr. Free Ride, and Sean Carroll
(from whom I stole part of the title of this post) who analyze the sitution logically, and probably convey what I think better than I did in this post.

1 comment:

monado said...

Framing sounds like the old principle of sending a message in such a way that your audience will receive it: listen to it, understand it, be motivated by it, and with luck even do what you want them to do. In the current case I would hammer on the mean-spirited behaviour of the Expelled producers. In general, I'd like to keep to the message that science neither proves nor disproves religion, only says that there's no solid evidence for supernatural events. And it's pointless to insult people for ideas inculcated in youth. Tell them that I haven't seen any evidence, yes; call them deluded fools, no.